While my father was busy with his continuous struggle with squirrels captured in his Havahart trap, we had moved to the country in upstate New York, and soon erected an Absolute Squirrel Proof bird feeder.
I am sure you have seen these feeders that have a hinged bird perch that shutters the bird feed when a certain weight is upon it. You can set the weight for, say, a blue jay, or…a squirrel.
We had the idea for one of these from my dad’s brother, who lived out on the Cape in Wellfleet, not far from the Audubon center there. At any given time, my uncle would have more birds in his small back yard than we would see hiking about the Audubon marshes. He accomplished this, of course, by having a number of different feeders, including an orange nailed to a tree to attract orioles and a cool wheel with spokes for the squirrels.
Now this squirrel ‘feeder’ was really a clever way to tease the tree rodents and seek some small revenge upon them and their calculating ways. Each spoke had a corn cob stuck on it, and so when a squirrel jumped on the wheel and went for a cob, his weight would turn the wheel, and round and round that wheel would go, the squirrel excitedly and frustratingly never reaching his cob.
We mounted our squirrel proof feeder by some evergreen shrubs in front of our dining room window and had a lot of ‘cheep’ entertainment, as my uncle would say, at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Only once did a squirrel figure out that ‘Squirrel Proof Feeder.’ This happened following a snow, then a melt and a freeze, so the top of the feeder had a thin layer of ice on it. One squirrel found that if it hooked its hind claws in the ice, it could hang down without touching the weight sensitive bird perch and grab seeds with its front paws, an Einstein among squirrels.
When we moved here, we moved our feeder and pole and placed it between us and our uphill neighbor’s fence. Sadly, the house is designed so the main living area is on the second floor, and we could only see the feeder by craning our necks and looking out one or two of the side windows.
A few years later, we decided to buy a feeder on a pole so we could easily see it from our main second floor.
That’s when the trouble with the squirrels here really began.